Looking at the different bright colors that Koreans use gives me always a happy feeling. Colors can be associated with all kind of thoughts and ideas. In this menu I will share my thoughts associated with colors.
FIrst a short introduction to those colors that origin from Eastern religions such as Confucianism and Buddhism.
Colors have an important meaning in the daily life of Koreans. There are 5 main colors appearing in Korean clothing (hanbok), handicrafts (hanji), martial arts (belts), music (samulnori), architecture (colored rooftops), design, traditional food and symbols.
These five colors are associated with the five directions and elements.
The color white symbolizes purity, innocence, peace and patriotism.
Traditionally, white represents the element metal and the direction West.
The color black is associated with mastery and the ending point of a cycle in Korea.
Black represents the element of water and the direction North.
The color red symbolizes male “yang” energy, the sun and the life force.
Red represents the element of fire and the direction South.
The color blue symbolizes female “yin”, energy, the moon.
Red represents the element wood and the direction East.
The color yellow symbolizes the starting point for developing knowledge and expanding the mind. Yellow represents the element of earth and the center direction.
Green is the sixth color that was added later on.
The color green symbolizes prosperity, a fresh start and auspicious beginnings. Many Korean storefronts are green to draw prosperity and success to the business.
However, even in Asian culture colors can have a different meaning. For example, Chinese use red gift cards to wish someone good luck or success, whereas Koreans use green.